Guy Gavriel Kay

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Guy Gavriel Kay

Kay in 2011
Kay in 2011
Born (1954-11-07) November 7, 1954 (age 68)
Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada
Notable works

Guy Gavriel Kay (born November 7, 1954) is a Canadian writer of fantasy fiction. The majority of his novels take place in fictional settings that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid. Kay has expressed a preference to avoid genre categorization of these works as historical fantasy. As of 2022, Kay has published 15 novels and a book of poetry. As of 2018, his fiction has been translated into at least 22 languages.[1] Kay is also a qualified lawyer in Canada.[2]


Kay was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, in 1954.[3] He was raised and educated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Manitoba in 1975.[3]

When Christopher Tolkien needed an assistant to edit his father J. R. R. Tolkien's unpublished work, he chose Kay, then a student of philosophy at the University of Manitoba, because of a family connection. Kay moved to Oxford in 1974 to assist Christopher in editing The Silmarillion.[4]

He returned to Canada in 1975 to pursue a law degree at the University of Toronto, which he obtained in 1978; he was called to the bar of Ontario in 1981.[3][2] Kay became principal writer and an associate producer for a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio series, The Scales of Justice, and continued as principal writer when the series transferred to television.[3]

In 1984, Kay's first fantasy work, The Summer Tree, the first volume of The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, was published.

Kay has stated concerns about the decline of individual privacy, the expectation of privacy, and also literary privacy. The latter primarily concerns the use of real individuals in works of fiction, such as Michael Cunningham having based The Hours on Virginia Woolf.[5][6]




  • Beyond This Dark House (2003), a collection

Awards and distinctions[edit]


  • Kay won the 1985 Scales of Justice Award for best media treatment of a legal issue, Canadian Law Reform Commission, 1985, for "Second Time Around".[citation needed]
  • The Wandering Fire won the 1987 Prix Aurora Award in the English category for best speculative fiction.[7]
  • Kay won the 1991 Aurora Award for Best Novel for Tigana.[citation needed]
  • Kay was runner up for the White Pine Award in 2007 for Ysabel.
  • Ysabel was the winner of the 2008 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.[9]
  • Kay won the International Goliardos Award for his contributions of the international literature of the fantastic.[10]
  • Under Heaven won the Sunburst Award in 2011[11] and was longlisted for the IMPAC/Dublin Literary prize.[12]
  • Kay was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2014 "for his contributions to the field of speculative fiction as an internationally celebrated author".[13][14]
  • Under Heaven won the 2015 Prix Elbakin in France.[15]
  • River of Stars won the 2017 Prix Elbakin in France.[16]
  • Under Heaven was named the best fantasy novel of the year by The American Library Association,[17] and was the SF Book Club's Book of the Year.



  1. ^ "au:Guy Gavriel Kay". WorldCat. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Flood, Alison (October 29, 2014). "Guy Gavriel Kay: 'I learned a lot about false starts from JRR Tolkien'". The Guardian. Retrieved November 22, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Myman, Francesca (May 15, 2016). "Guy Gavriel Kay: Journeying". Locus magazine. Retrieved November 22, 2022.
  4. ^ Flood, Alison (October 29, 2014). "Guy Gavriel Kay: 'I learned a lot about false starts from JRR Tolkien'". The Guardian. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  5. ^ Levin, Martin (December 2, 2000). "Privacy between the covers". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
  6. ^ Woods, Stuart (December 18, 2007). "The Internet, and other modern horrors". Quill & Quire. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Professional Awards (1980–2006)". Archived from the original on March 25, 2010.
  8. ^ "A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "Awards | World Fantasy Convention". Archived from the original on October 27, 2012.
  10. ^ "Shortlist for the 2005 Sunburst Award". Archived from the original on March 17, 2010.
  11. ^ "2011 Sunburst Award Winners". Archived from the original on August 9, 2014.
  12. ^ "International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award: 2012 Longlist". Archived from the original on April 21, 2013.
  13. ^ General, Office of the Secretary to the Governor. "The Governor General of Canada". The Governor General of Canada.
  14. ^ Cerny, Dory (July 2, 2014). "Guy Gavriel Kay, Chris Hadfield given Order of Canada honours". Quill & Quire. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
  15. ^ "Remise de trophées du prix". (in French). Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  16. ^ "Remise des trophées du prix adulte aux Utopiales 2017". (in French). Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  17. ^ "2011 The REading list | Awards & Grants". Retrieved October 13, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Interviews and lectures[edit]

  1. ^ [1], 'Guy Gavriel Kay Lecture Recording', May 14, 2021. Retrieved June 10, 2021.